News > How to prevent and remove those carpet beetles that are driving you nuts
How to prevent and remove those carpet beetles that are driving you nuts
November 29, 2020
It’s sweater weather – except yours have holes.
Now that the weather is chillier, many of us are pulling out our favourite wool sweaters, thick jackets and scarves, only to find that they’ve somehow become full of holes and unwearable since you put them in the back of the closet at the end of last winter. And now that you think of it, the corner of the carpet in the rec room is looking mangy, and that silk-covered armchair also has a few holes in it.
Looks like you have carpet beetles.
It’s the larvae that do the damage.
While adult carpet beetles feed mostly on pollen, it’s the larvae (little bristle-covered caterpillar-type things) that do damage: They will feast on any natural fibre associated with animals, like wool, fur, feathers, silk and hair, as well as on the oils and crumbs that may be in your carpet, and will sometimes even eat grains and seeds. While they typically don’t prefer plant-based or man-made fibres, they are not averse to snacking on a blended fabric if it contains one of the fibres they like.
Neither adults nor larvae pose a risk to human health, generally speaking. However, the bristles on the larvae can be a skin irritant to some people, which of course becomes worse when an infestation gets out of control.
How to spot carpet beetles
Carpet beetles and their larvae are pretty small (typically 1-3mm in length) and therefore hard to spot. But their damage follows some patterns, including holes in clothes, in the corners of broadloom, in dark stains on area rugs that can’t be explained by the red wine Aunt Mabel spilled on it last Christmas.
Preventing carpet beetles
The truth is that the best way to prevent carpet beetles – and in fact to minimize their damage if they do get in your home – is simply making sure that you are cleaning your home thoroughly and regularly. Carpet beetles tend to thrive in forgotten (and unvacuumed) corners, in the seams of upholstered chairs that aren’t regularly used or cleaned, and in clothes that have been shoved in the back of a closet that hasn’t been opened or cleaned in a while.
Here’s what you can do:
- If you have broadloom, make sure you’re vacuuming regularly and thoroughly, including under the sofa and in the corners behind the potted plant
- Wash and dry all your wool, sheepskin, silk and fur/feather garments before you put them away for the season
- Consider storing unused clothes in sealed vacuum bags or even Rubbermaid bins once they’ve been throroughly cleaned
- Get rid of food sources: They like eating the dead bugs that accumulate in cobwebs in the corners of rooms. Getting rid of those little piles (we all have one or two!) will make it harder for an infestation to take hold
- Clean your home thoroughly and regularly with products labeled as disinfectants
Getting rid of carpet beetles
Most experts say that the best way to get rid of carpet beetles is cleaning: Keeping clothes laundered, ensuring there aren’t any corners where cobwebs and dead bugs are accumulating, vacuuming broadloom and having area rugs cleaned regularly will go a long way to ensuring that if a couple of stray carpet beetles find their way into your home on a bunch of flowers or through an open window don’t turn into a huge infestation.
However, if you find you do have an infestation, you can start by spot-treating areas with sprays or powders specifically labelled as effective against carpet beetles, such as boric acid (of course, never use these products on linens or garments).
For multi-family residential property managers or facilities managers who discover large, stubborn infestations in units or buildings that haven’t been used or cleaned in a long time, it may make more sense to call the professionals (because it’s likely you have other bugs as well). A professional pest control company can spray and treat large areas more effectively, so you don’t find yourself locked in an ongoing battle with carpet beetles.
As always, if you’d like more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!